Vignettes: Neurologist check up and 2nd Sympathetic Nerve Block

I flew back to New York City for my second sympathetic nerve block and a neurologist check up.

The second block was emotionally much easier because I knew what to expect. My doctor used a thinner needle which took longer, but was slightly less painful. She also made the injection at L1L2, instead of L3L4 where she made the first injection.

There was one moment when I had to remind the doctors that I was fully conscious and perhaps they, for my benefit, could find a different way to say things like “scrape the vertebral processes.” Otherwise, the procedure went well. My doctor still maintains that I am a good candidate for remission and told me to keep up with my rehab.


My neurologist was pleased with the result of the block. He concurred that it appeared to be doing its job and agreed that if I may see remission if I stay focused on rehabilitation and therapy.


It’s funny how a whole bunch of “negative” adjectives that have been used to describe me through the years are really coming in handy nowadays. Stubborn, willful, tenacious, headstrong, steadfast, indefatigable, indomitable…

…but some days, most days actually, I am simply tired of my leg hijacking my life. Longing for my old “normal” life and hating the loss of independence are generally the main motivating factors.

I also believe that one should not complain about something she isn’t actively trying to change. I am trying very hard to change so that I can buy myself some hearty complaints…

Good Swim/Bad Swim

Sometimes, you can swim the length of the pool consistently in 16 strokes without taking a breath. Sometimes, you have to end the session early because your goggles keep filling with tears. Sometimes, you do both of these things during the same workout. And, by “you,” I meant me. And, by “sometimes,” I meant today. So, yeah…

The Best Workouts

The best workouts are the ones when you wake up and don’t want to do it. The leg hurts, the allergies are bad, the meds make you groggy, and you’re just plain tired.

But you go anyway. “This is the work, work is hard, you can do it,” you tell yourself. You know you are full of mumbo jumbo, and don’t truly believe in yourself. But, you go.

When you get to the pool you think of a thousand places you’d rather be. You look at the pool and lanes are full of triathletes with ironman swim caps. You sigh. Your leg is already shaking. You sigh harder, adjust your suit, put on your goggles, and get in.

The water is cold, but familiar. And so you start. You count every lap, every breath, every stroke, every minute. You force yourself to keep going despite every ounce of your being begging for you to stop.

You count and count and count until it’s time to count down to the time you can get the heck out of the pool. And that last lap comes, as it always does, with a sense of great relief. You don’t feel proud or accomplished, just glad that it’s over for today.

You hoist yourself out of the pool and hobble over to your towel. You sit there shaking for several minutes, before doing the obligatory stretches and ankle exercises, before putting the foot back into its boot.

And then comes an unexpected reward. Out of the ether, a voice says, “you are a beast.” And you look up to see who is talking to whom. The lifeguard. To you. Huh?

She repeats, “you are a beast. How long did you swim?”

“Just over an hour and a half.”

“Your stamina is insane. You just kept going, and going strong. Do you do ironmans?”

Wait, what? Is she talking to you? You look around just to be sure. No one else is there.

You laugh nervously. “No,” you say with a smile, “I hate to run.” She laughs.

You go on your way, but take away a lesson. The struggle you felt was definitely true. It was horribly difficult and painful. But, the observer saw a strength in you that you didn’t know was there.

The best workouts are the ones when you wake up and don’t want to do it.