You can barely see them. The four little dots of a band aids on my lower right back. They represent yet another round of poking needles into my spine all in a desperate attempt to bring some modicum of relief from pain. Most people can't tell I am in pain nearly every day. I have become very good at hiding it.
When I check in at the front desk of the doctor's office, everyone has to fill out a form saying they will not drive and that someone can drive them home after the procedure. But me? I don't drive. I walk. I go back to work. Besides who wants to know their doc is human? We are supposed to be Superman, after all. But my doc, who is incredibly talented with an amazing staff, can see the pain and the exhaustion it brings with it in my eyes today. We both know we are reaching the end of what procedures are available to me.
"Am I even helping? I want to make sure that I am actually helping you."
"Well, since ablating the nerves on the left side, I can check my left blind spot a lot easier. That's something. But my pain? The worst is deep down in that joints of that extra vertebra and with all this rain....it's bad....and I know there's nothing you can do about that......and I know there is nothing a surgeon can do about it."
"I'm not going to lie to you or feed you a line. Besides, I'm sure you've done your homework as always,"
I interrupted and chuckle, "Yeah, I've done my homework. I know that surgery realistically has very little to offer me."
The sadness in her eyes told me everything I needed to know, "I know. I could send you to one if you want but you already know the answer....you're one of my youngest patients....on the outside you look great, but on the inside...your spine looks like an old man."
I remembered back to when I first started down this road of pain with my family doc. He took an x-ray and we counted an extra vertebra. I recounted it to her, "I asked him if I am like this now, what am I going to look like when I'm in my 60s? He said, let's not think about that right now." She chuckled in agreement. And we went so she could stick more needles into my spine.