Yesterday was my appointment with the neurosurgeon to find out if the pain I've been experiencing is spine or nerve related and if it's something that would require surgery - possibly another spine surgery, when the last one paralyzed me. I didn't get much sleep during the two nights preceding it, and I was incredibly anxious.
The doctor looked at a lot of my scans (a little too quickly for my comfort, honestly, the first time he'd seen them was at the appointment and there were several.) I had to describe the pain and symptoms and got the chance to go into detail about what exactly it's like. It was good to be taken seriously since I had bad experiences with that before and it was nice to watch the guy pay such close attention to my symptoms.
He thinks I have some complications from shingles.
Evidently, I had a mild case awhile back and it stays in your system and can do a lot of damage. He named a specific condition that it can cause, and that's what I have. It strips the insulation from some nerves and those nerves can sort of touch each other, causing the pain. The way the pain presents is exactly the way mine did - he went through what was likely to occur if I had that complication and it wasn't exactly the same but it matched up really well.
The good news is he doesn't think I'll need surgery. He explained that the treatment for that is seizure medication. I really can't remember the rationale behind that, because I'm just really tired, but he explained it's what works for this.
He actually told me that surgery would probably be a bad idea for me and would probably be a big bloody mess that wouldn't work out for me. Seriously, he put it like that, as graphic as possible. In a way it's kind of comforting - I've been trying to tell people that if I need spine surgery I could die, or worse, my life could just be impossible for the rest of it. I'm happy to know that it's something I won't need - but also happy to know that I wasn't in fear of that just because I'm irrational.
I don't have many more details yet - I have to try some seizure meds for awhile, and if they're not working in two weeks then it was something else and we have to start again. I am hoping the meds just work and this can all be over really soon.
I also asked him about all the information and contacts I've been getting from you guys here, and about the different doctors I've been talking to (or more accurately, who Richard, who has kindly offered to help me deal with all of this, has been talking to.) He said, obviously, that it couldn't hurt. (He'd mentioned earlier in the conversation that he's not "some smart doctor at Harvard" anyway, which prompted me to ask and say that I pretty much am already talking to those types of doctors.
He said I shouldn't let them tell me I need surgery. He didn't really need to say that, though, I wasn't going to let anyone unless my death were imminent. Given all my issues though, I didn't know if it was or not.
So, in short, good news for now, and I'm relieved. I thought you all would like to know this. I really appreciate that all of you have been with me through this. I feel safer with so many people backing me up and I feel comforted knowing I'm in people's thoughts and prayers. Thanks, again.