The doctor listened to me when I told him it takes awhile for the local to take effect and it takes a lot of numbing agent. So when he used the bigger needle (much smaller than the cath needle) it didn't hurt horribly like an angiogram does because the site was appropriately numb. I could feel it but I could breathe into it and it was quite tolerable.
At one point an electric shock feeling buzzed down my left arm because the catheter dispersing the medication brushed my nerve and he backed off immediately and explained what happened. I have no lasting effects from that so I believe his explanation. He had tried to find a longer needle before the procedure but they didn't have one. (I'd guess since I have a layer of fat to go through he needed the needle to be longer than average. The nurse would have had to go to the OR, I gather some distance away, to get one. That would have slowed up the schedule. But a longer needle would have enabled him to see if he was close to the nerve on the x ray machinery. I guess the plastic catheter doesn't register as well or at all.)
So that was the worst of it, that and the blood pressure cuff on my left arm which hurt like hell--they always do. He set it to go off less often. Docs don't usually care about that.
I felt he redeemed himself for his freak out in the office. :)
Even the IV went smoothly--one stick and it was in place!
This took place Monday. By Tuesday I was noticing that I no longer needed to move ice packs all around my arms. All I needed was to ice (or heat) the neck and the injection site, which was a bit lower where my back meets the vertebrae in my neck. I stopped using painkillers, too.
Since then I've felt a few aches in my right arm but nothing like the stabbing pain I had before. And when I say "stabbing pain" I mean that literally--it felt like the pain you imagine if some psycho were repeatedly stabbing you with a not-completely-sharpened knife. (A really sharp knife goes in so smoothly that you almost don't realize you've been cut, as I know from being a kitchen klutz.) My neck continues to ache a bit and I've had a migraine--I guess from the storm system that went through. My neck always hurts when I have a migraine. But my arms are still pretty much pain free and my life no longer revolves around rotating ice packs out of the freezer. I ice my neck/back maybe 4 times a day or so.
I was warned not to do "too much" in this first week even if I feel much better and I am following that like the gospel. I feel a bit like Cinderella waiting for the fairy godmother's magical gifts to disappear, though I have been given no firm deadline. I am afraid to mess up my progress somehow and be right back where I started.
The only oddity in this whole process was that twice (in the office and in the procedure room) the doctor thought that most of my pain was in my left arm because the MRI seemed to show that would be the case. So he put the cortisone on that side, even though I had mentioned in the office that no, my right arm is the one that hurts all the time plus my right shoulder. I didn't find out what he'd done until after he'd removed the needle so it was too late (I guess). [I suppose he could have gone back in but they do have a schedule to keep and other patients waiting.] He said next time he can put more on the right side. I'm hoping I won't need another shot any time soon because it cost $300.00 bucks for my copay. I don't know how we'll pay that, much less another. I'm still making payments on the endoscopy.
I'm kind of amazed, still, to not be in severe pain all day long with all of the despair and exhaustion that goes with it. I know I'll still have migraines but that is the status quo I'm familiar with, at least.
Now I can get back to my writing. :)