Nov. 16, 2017

Epidural steroid injection procedure

Yesterday, I went in for my epidural steroid injection appointment.  This lucky and grateful girl had her sister and sis-in-law driving her and giving her their priceless support, as they always do.  Admittedly, I did need a driver, but their immediate decision to take time off work to support me is very heart-warming and spirit-lifting.

Finding the surgery center in Bellevue was interesting.  It was kind of hidden and we had to drive down a very steep driveway to get to the front of the building.  It would have been scary if the roads were icy.  Upon parking, I looked at the surroundings.  To be brutally honest, it looked run-down and my hopes for a good experience were dropping.  As we walked through the entrance, I noticed that the door wasn’t ADA compliant.  Maybe I don’t know all the rules about that particular law, but considering that it is a surgery center for pain management, shouldn’t there have been automatic doors or the disability provision? 

Next, there were no directions other than a simple typed sign on the first glass door we saw.  As I went to use the restroom, my sister and sis-in-law went into the office where the sign was taped, they noticed that there was no one at the counter to greet or direct people.  Yes, there was the sign on the door saying to go downstairs, but what if the patients didn’t read English or were illiterate?  Why wasn’t there someone in that office to help anyone?  Anyway, we ended up following the direction of the sign and went downstairs to the surgery center.

Still no other ADA compliance noted.  I checked in and was given a clipboard with three sheets.  The condition of the printing was yet another strike against this center.  It may be a little thing, but when there are smears or lines of toner all over the intake paperwork, it means that either this center is hard up for money to improve simple things like toner or even huge things like ADA compliance.

We sat for a few minutes and then I was called back.  I was led to a room with several curtained off areas and it was freezing!  Before my vitals were checked, I was asked to remove my fleece hoodie, which left me in my tank top and pants and shoes.  Even after commenting that it was freezing, I wasn’t offered a blanket while I waited or even allowed to put my hoodie back on as I had the bp cuff on my arm and an IV inserted into my right inner wrist.  The nurses were friendly and professional, but seemed to lack the elemental concern for patient comfort.  Maybe I was feeling entitled to a blanket while I froze my considerable ass off waiting for the surgeon to come and introduce himself? 

When he finally did, he marked my back and within a minute, I was given medication to relax me then taken into another freezing room and asked to lie face down on the table that had a face cradle like they have in massage therapy rooms.  Apparently, I wasn’t relaxed enough and felt the burn of lidocaine then sharp pokes that radiated from that spot, down that butt cheek, then down my left leg to my toes.  I was struggling not to twitch.  It wasn’t until later that I started to feel considerable pain all along that path.  Suffice it to say that yoga breathing techniques helped me a lot at this time.  I felt more pokes and pain and burning, then he was done.

The nurse that assisted helped me up and reminded me to take my time to get my legs under me.  She let me keep my cane and I hobbled back into the “room” where my stuff was waiting, and it was still freezing!  I had to undergo more blood pressure checks.  I was in pain, so it was higher than expected.  I had to wait until it went down before they would even consider discharging me. 

This time, I was assisted by another nurse.  She was funny, friendly, and professional.  She offered a survey and processed my discharge paperwork.  I was given the post-operative instructions and pain level feedback form to be given to Dustin when I went for my follow-up appointment with him.  The nurse and I joked and laughed as we finished up and she walked me back to the waiting room.  She made my experience better.

Next…post-procedure experience.