Why oh why do doctors try to "trick" you into not feeling pain by reframing it as "discomfort". Once it has been established that a procedure is agony, do me a favor, doc, and quit trying to pass it off as mild discomfort. "Now, I'm turning up the stimulation level..." "Everyone feels it just a little differently." No. If some fuckwit who isn't in pain in the first place and who is wired with magic non-pain-feeling nerves feels it "a little bit differently", I don't care. It doesn't ameliorate the bit where I'm crying in pain and telling the doctors that they're hurting me to the extreme. It doesn't calm me! It's so disrespectful.
The electric shocks to my legs, especially the already very pained leg, were agonizing and after about 10 minutes I could not help crying. From there I progressed to shaking, feeling like I was going to vomit, uncontrollable sobs and near delirium. Believe me, I tried to be tough and stoic and breathe through the pain and I got the doctors to count to three and then do the shocks. I also communicated pretty clearly that I was in pain and what level of pain it was. But several times they would go "So, of course, be sure to tell us if it's too much." (With an air of disapproval.)
I explained it would be easier for me if they would count to 3 and warn me, so I could time my breathing to exhale on the shock. But, they could not manage. They would count to 3 and then wait RND(N) seconds before the shock would come. Arrrrrrgh!
Meanwhile they went on wittering about fossa and the different nerves and wavelength and amplitude and maximal reaction, to each other, but not to me, even when I asked them to tell me because it would be a distraction. They couldn't tell me how many times they would do the shocks along a particular nerve. They'd do it and then up the "stimulation" and keep upping it until some particular wavelength happened. About an hour passed, I think.
Then we got to the part with the needles.
The first needle they stuck in the front part of my shin, up on the lateral side just under my knee, into one of the many places where I already hurt but which they had just been doing electrical shocks on. Keep in mind I have no pants on and am covered in snot and tears. Also I was in that head space where I kept apologizing to them. The needle hurt a lot and it didn't stop quickly like the electric shocks.
I tried to deal and cry through it and remind myself it was temporary and I had to endure it, but at some point, I guess the point where it was TOO MUCH, I started screaming and begging them to take the needle out. Instead they wiggled it, because that helps them get a better reading.
That was fun.
I yelled some more.
They finally took it out about a year later.
Then they said maybe we should reschedule the rest for another day, and that I should get the pain clinic to give me some sedation for it, beforehand.
WHAT? I didn't know I could be sedated for it. I guess it makes sense; they only care about the electrical impulses of the nerves or muscles or something; not whether I actually feel the pain or not.
Oh hai! You're in so much pain you've come to us in a motherfucking wheelchair, which you've been in for 6 months, and we're going to give you electric shocks on that very leg which is already in pain, and then stick needles in it and WIGGLE THE NEEDLES. But, it doesn't OCCUR to us that you might want some pain meds before doing this.
I think the nurse who came in a bit later and offered to help me get dressed was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen... she was so glowing and lovely... and she felt actual human sympathy... and was nice... I had already managed to get my own socks on, but it was a struggle. I would happily have taken her help.
I took a bit to lie there and cry on my left side, the position that is the least painful for me and the one I'm typing in right now. So, I pulled myself together a bit, and on autopilot, left. I had come into the clinic able to walk a block or two, and aching, but not in super bad pain. Able to think and work and function. I came out of only half the EMG process barely able to put on my own socks. As I left, wheeling over the cracks in the pavement hurt. It was harder to deal with wheeling myself because my low back muscles were spasming or something was just wrong in there. But, I had to get to the pain clinic at 3:15 for these trigger point injections which they promised would be super helpful.
After a bit in the waiting room with the tweakers and vague spacebots and junkies with the complex inner elbow tattoos, I ended up on a gurney surrounded by curtains, with my pants off and a gown and (joy) a warm blanket. The doctor was one I had seen before and he was really nice. I signed some things and explained I was in a lot of pain and unsettled and a bit terrified, from the EMG that I had just had. I got some reassurance about how the needles were small and once they started injecting stuff it would help with the pain and would numb everything. "Ah! Numbing the entire painful area and interrupting the pain signal to the brain! You don't know how good that sounds!" But as the dude started poking me and drawing on me in pen to figure out where to inject, I started crying again, explaining that the poking really hurt, also, that I was just plain scared. The doctor was really nice to me again, but, when he stuck me with the needle, it killed, it burned, it ached, it felt cold and hot and super sharp all at once and I started to feel like I had to flinch, or yank away, or fucking die. I was shaking again. So, he stopped and we talked about whether to do any more or not.
Then he was like... "Wait, did you just have the EMG yesterday or something??
"No... just now... like half an hour ago. It was very horrible. And I still hurt from it."
"Oh my god. We can't do this now! You must be hurting a lot! You should have told us you just had the EMG! There's no way!"
"Half the EMG. They had to stop because I couldn't take it, and told me to ask you for sedation to do the rest."
"I know. Thanks!"
So apparently they were planning anyway to sedate me and do some kind of deep injection in the piriformis muscle right next to or around the sciatic nerve. So he said that they might as well do all the injections then while I was knocked out. That will all happen another day.
THANKS MAN. That's why they work in a pain clinic. They don't want you to suffer! They care if you suffer or not!
I recovered a bit more, drank some juice, dragged myself to my car and drove here on autopilot, with a strong heroic feeling of "I'm just barely holding it together and I can fall apart later." Zond-7 has warmed up my leg with his hands and has soothed me and made me laugh about many things and run me a hot bath and gone to get a heating pad and told me I do not have to magically bounce back in 1 hour as I keep expecting myself to do, but instead should melt down for the evening.
It's so helpful to complain in detail! Remember that when you hear old people talking about their operations. It restores some measure of dignity back to the soul.
I have some amazing entertainment for the evening thanks to Zond-7 and his crew, my spirits are back up, I feel more human, I'm warm and thus in less pain, and there is a new electric blanket! And a sort of leg patch thing, a giant "air activated" heating pad you crack open, that lasts 8 hours. It has the kind of adhesive that electrodes have - sticky but that doesn't hurt to peel off of skin. I like the 8-hour heating pad on the outside of my leg!
The sural nerve was unfun. The tibial nerve was much much worse. "Peroneal" was bandied about during some bad moments. We did not get up much beyond my knee, so I don't know what's next.
Update even later: I am still hurting, but walking a bit again. I see that truly people don't expect the nerve conduction electric shock tests to be painful. But, they were painful, very much so, for me. I put them at 8-9.5 on the Mankoski scale. It was 9+ for about the last half hour. I was incoherent, shaking, nauseous, unable to stop crying from the pain which I most definitely did not experience as being "like static electricity". I wonder if they believed me that it hurt. Also, I see that there might not be any diagnostic value to the tests. Instead, they want to complete the tests to contribute my nerve conduction, etc. results to the range of known ranges.