You want to know what’s bothering me? Well, here it is …

This morning I woke early to catch a ride to the VA hospital in Houston. It was one of those 5 o’clock rising-type morns but luckily I made it back home after a five-hour round trip. That is really amazing considering how long it usually takes. This morning’s trip was for a test called an “EMG.” A definition of that term from the Mayo (Hold the mustard) Clinic:

 “Electromyography (EMG) is a diagnostic procedure to assess the health of muscles and the nerve cells that control them (motor neurons). Motor neurons transmit electrical signals that cause muscles to contract. An EMG translates these signals into graphs, sounds or numerical values that a specialist interprets.”

It wasn’t really a pass/fail type test so no No. 2 pencils were involved. I have had these tests before, one of which revealed I had a moderate case of carpal tunnel syndrome in my hands. This morning the EMG was taken on my legs and were conducted by the neurologist I have been seeing for more than a year for my lower back pain.

I had finally decided to once and for all have the VA determine what could be done with regard to my excruciating lower back pain that I developed several years ago. The diagnoses had jumped back and forth from a problem involving disc and bone spurs in my lumbar and sacral spinal regions. I underwent some three MRIs in as many years, all had noted no change in my discs. An early diagnoses had shown what was originally described as a rare condition called arachnoiditis. Subsequent examinations by doctors said not so much. But again, it seems as if we are back at that diagnosis. This time, according to my neurologist after my EMG tests this morning, it seems that my pain is likely compounded from what she, my neurologist, referred to as advanced neuropathy in my legs.

Arachnoiditis is when the arachnoid, a membrane that surrounds and protects nerves of the spinal cord, becomes inflamed and leads to scars that “stick together.” The condition can cause tingling, numbness and burning pain in the lower back and legs. Also:

 “Some people with arachnoiditis will have debilitating muscle cramps, twitches, or spasms.  It may also affect bladder, bowel, and sexual function.  In severe cases, arachnoiditis may cause paralysis of the lower limbs.”

Sounds lovely doesn’t it?

As for cures? Well, there aren’t any. Sounds even better, right? Actually, the medical world treats the symptoms mostly with pain management.

Neuropathy is, according to Mayo:

 ” … a result of nerve damage, often causes numbness and pain in your hands and feet. People typically describe the pain of peripheral neuropathy as tingling or burning, while they may compare the loss of sensation to the feeling of wearing a thin stocking or glove.

 “Peripheral neuropathy (as it is commonly called) can result from problems such as traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems and exposure to toxins. One of the most common causes is diabetes.”

Yes, I have diabetes, type II, and yes I am trying to keep it in check. But my neurologist says even if I keep my diabetes in check it doesn’t mean my neuropathy will go away. This condition, too, is mostly just treated for symptoms which is probably most annoying beyond pain in my condition is mostly numbness in my feet. I shouldn’t wear flip flops in order to prevent feet injury which can turn into something serious due to diabetes, but I do. Often I can’t feel if the flip flops are on my feet. The same goes for socks.

There are a lot of treatments for neuropathy. I am taking a couple of drugs for its treatment. One is neurontin a.k.a. Gabapentin and the other is Lyrica. The pain in my feet is pretty well controlled most of the time. My doctor is adding a lidocaine cream for my feet. But for either malady, there is nothing that can really fix me up.

Surgery is not usually indicated for arachnoiditis and may do more harm than good. My neurologist explained this morning that, most often, the attempts to remove the nerve endings that become stuck will cause surrounding nerves to become stuck.

The no-surgery option comes after also having a “drive-by” diagnosis yesterday by a VA neurosurgeon by telephone who clearly sounded as if he had something else better to do. I mean, every neurosurgeon I have ever seen was live and in-person and who usually gave me a thorough examination. Oh, but not this one, he was so good he could stick a copy of the radiology report up to his temple like the Johnny Carson psychic character “Carnac the Magnificent.”

Oh, and I can’t forget the bulging disc and other problems which have had me taking methadone for severe neck pain over the past seven or so years.

All of which brings up a quiz. Which is the correct question?

–Are I f***ed?

–Am I f***ed?

Well, either answer seems pretty appropriate. It is just of matter whether you want good language or a proper prognosis.

What’s for the future? Well, pretty much the same, for now. I will soon take a look at just how I can live financially with a disability retirement. That is pretty much what I have to figure out right now.

So that is what’s up with me right now. That, and rummaging around the pantry to see what is for supper.