So one X-ray and one MRI later, the doctor informed me that the pain was coming from a disc that was slightly torn and leaking disc-goo onto my a nerve, creating the same sensation one might get from an actual pinched nerve.
The problem could hopefully be solved, he said, by giving me a steroid injection in that part of my spine, thereby giving the disc time to heal. "It's called an epidural," he said, which put me at ease. My wife has had three epidurals, and they were great at relieving pain. Simple math.
Alas, I think what he was trying to tell me was "It's called an epidural, but this ain't your old lady's epidural." He proceeded to tell me that it would, in fact, hurt. "Say what?!" I thought, while successfully maintaining my cool demeanor. Couldn't he numb me wherever that shot had to happen? And where DID it happen, for that matter?
My question was soon answered. He pointed on a little model of the spine to a tiny hole in the tailbone. The shot would go in that spot, as shown in the picture.
You'll notice that needle is going in dangerously close to what I like to call the "no-touchy zone." But no matter! I'm nothing if not a tough, manly, no-pain-no-gain type of ubermale. That said, I did ask if there was anything we could do to avoid the pain -- we ubermales don't like embarrassing other men with our incredible tolerance for pain -- and he answered in one word as he left the room.
I laughed. My laughter would be short-lived, however.
I switched into a hospital gown, and a nurse prepared the area for the injection by wiping it with iodine-type stuff -- a task I do not envy her. Then the doctor came back in, and got ready to give me the shot of cortisone. I was a bit unnerved when I saw him prepping the shot. I snapped this picture when he wasn't looking.
Nevertheless, I was braced for the worst. After all, the spinal cord doesn't extend all the way down that little hole, so there were probably no nerves there to be bother--
"HOLY CRAP THAT HURTS!"
These and other words were among the many, many things I did not scream. I was dismayed to learn that my health insurance didn't cover a nice wooden stick for me to bite down on, which I think might've helped considerably.
I'll be honest: my butt cheeks clenched up tighter than an alligator's jaws on a poodle. In fact, I'm fairly certain I could have held an alligator's jaws shut with my butt cheeks.
"All right, let's try to relax there," the doctor said. "Don't want to break my needle here..."
OH YES. THAT HELPS ME RELAX. THANK YOU, DOCTOR, FOR THOSE SOOTHING WORDS TO PUT ME AT EA
I tried to relax, but let's face it -- I have one tight bottom. Nary a day goes by that I don't catch some woman getting ready to spank my tookus as I go by. So he pulled the needle out, whether out of concern for my pain or out of concern for his precious needle, and then decided to give me something to numb the area.
What? Now you decide that? Why couldn't... why would you... WHAT THE CRAP, DOC? I even asked if there was something you could do, and you said to pray! Was that a little test? Were you listening outside the door to see if I prayed, and when I didn't pray you opted not to numb me first? You're a sick man. A sick, sick man.
So he got something to numb it, which, of course, also had to be injected. But eventually it took effect, and I was able to coax my buttocks into their normal, non-bulletproof state. He then finished the injection, which still hurt like the dickens, but perhaps only 3 or 4 dickens, as compared to the hundreds of dickens it was hurting like before.
In the end (HA!) I think it'll be for the best. I won't know for sure for a couple days if it's really helping or not. But if the sciatic nerve pain persists, maybe I can reflect back on the injection and it'll seem like nothing.
I leave you with this stanza from Dr. Suess's "There's a Wocket in my Pocket:"
Or see a thingy-thangy that you thought might make you lose it?
If your doctor has a floogus that he says will help your woogus
Then make sure you make him promise that he isn't gonna bruise it.