It’s been four and a half months since my chest was cut open and the doc re-arranged my insides. I wish I could say it’s been a breeze, however the past few months have been quite grueling. A couple of weeks ago I finished cardiac rehab. Yeah…I’ve graduated!
I have now been cleared/pulled from restriction. As a reminder, cardiac rehab consisted of working out for an hour or more at a normal looking gym. The only difference, everyone’s a heart patient and we’re all on heart monitors. I’m happy to report I had no cardiac issues throughout the 36 sessions.
I am now very active and doing/going out fairly often. However, I’m plagued by constant residual chest nerve pain. It hurts to touch my chest, sometimes even a shirt. I told the doc when I can hug someone or wear my seatbelt without a grimace I’ll know I’m fine. Activity amazingly is a distraction most of the time. Although some upper body strength test feel like the meat is being ripped off my bones. (makes me never want to eat spare ribs again) I’ve been on numerous pain drugs trying to mitigate the near constant agony, Oxycodone, Oxytocin, Gabapentin, Cymbalta, & Lyrica. (not all at the same time) So far, Oxy is the only thing which seems to work, and my tolerance has increased to such a state that taking it without an alcoholic drink to give it a kick, doesn’t phase it a bit. Everyone seems paranoid I’ll end up an addict. I’m surprised the doc even gives it to me anymore, but thank God he does. I’ve pondered alternative solutions. Medical Marijuana by chance? Heck on a bad day a bullet sounds fond.
If you’ve never been in months long constant pain, I don’t know how to describe the mental toll it takes on oneself. Depression has stalked me like an evil soul. Some day’s are good and other not so. Again, going out and staying active connected with the many friends I’m blessed to have has kept me sane.
The docs have informed me while some folks are fine within a few months of such a procedure, others, like me, for unknown reasons end up with nerve damage that causes pain for up to 1-3 years. Every day I wish I could punch my surgeon in the face for telling me I’d be on nothing but Tylenol within 30 days.
So, I’ve considered using the Scenar I’ve blogged about before, but have shied away simply because it hurts to touch my chest yet alone put an electrical charge on it as well. I started seeing a pain management specialist a few weeks ago and last week they performed a nerve block test. In outpatient surgery under general anesthesia they injected a pain drug directly on a dozen nerve endings coming out of my spinal cord which wrap around into my ribcage. The test was only partially successful. The most intense pain area which is below my nipple line disappeared. However from the nipple up there wasn’t a change. I’m scheduled for next Tuesday the 25th to undergo a more extensive procedure. This time they’ll be burning the nerves as they leave my spinal column. The hope is, that it’ll sever the pathway to the brain and therefore not feel anymore pain for up to a year at which time hopefully the damaged nerves in my chest will have re-healed as well. Cross your fingers or say a prayer, I’m sooooo anxious to spend a day in bliss.