Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Cortisone Shot Chronicles

Originally, I was planning to give a play-by-play by day post-cortisone shot.  But there’s really no point.

I cannot believe how life-changing one shot can be. 

If I knew this is what would happen, I would have done it 7 years ago.  You get so used to living in pain that you don’t realize what it does to you until you’re not in pain anymore.  

As I mentioned in a previous post, I received a cortisone shot for bursitis in my hip.  I have had hip pain since I first got sick, but have never treated the hip directly. 

I was super nervous about it.  My doctor was very encouraging, (and truth be told, I wanted to chicken out) but ultimately, I realized that I didn’t really want to deal with my severe hip pain anymore if there was a potential to remedy it. 

My rheum walked me through the whole thing as she did it.  First, she cleaned the area.  Then she felt around and told me to tell her the spot that hurt the most.  Then she marked it.  Then she sprayed lidocaine on the area – there is lidocaine in the injection too, to minimize pain.  Then she cleaned it again.  And then she did the injection.  The whole process probably took less than seven minutes.  It was more nerve-wracking than anything else, just the anticipation of not knowing what to expect. 

Overall, the injection wasn’t super painful, just annoying.  The pain afterward was low and dull.  That night, the pain went from low and dull to more persistent.  Certain movements hurt, and it was hard to bend directly from the hip.  It was also painful to sleep on. 

But not joint painful.  A different, achier kind of pain, sort of like when you get a flu shot. 

The night I got the shot, my boyfriend encouraged me to use an icepack or take some Aleve, but I didn’t because I really wanted to be able to gauge my pain, feel exactly where it was coming from, to see if the pain was actually from the injection or pain from my hip.

Despite this improvement, I probably won’t run any marathons – which I didn’t do pre-illness – and no offense to my friends @hurtblogger and @titaniumtriathlete – but I am moving with a spring in my step that hasn’t been there in a long time. 

It actually gets me kind of emotional thinking about it, about how one little shot can work wonders.

I no longer fear the cortisone shot, but now I fear the pain that is no longer there.

And then I wonder.  Is the minimal pain that I am sometimes feeling really there, or am I so used to the pain that it’s gone but not forgotten?  It’s like having phantom pains when the offending appendage is no longer there.

I think the minimal pain I am in now is related to muscle memory, having to relearn all these different positions that my hip hasn’t been able to get into, like folding my leg under me, sitting cross legged, or sitting on the floor and being able to get up, myself, without help.  It almost feels like I pulled a muscle or something.

But every twinge of pain makes me wonder if the cortisone shot is losing its effectiveness already.

When I got three days of steroid infusions right after I was diagnosed, I didn’t really savor the pain-free time I had.  I took for granted that eventually the pain relief would wear off.  Ultimately, I only got a month of relief from the infusions. 

And I’m not going to make that same mistake now.  I’m going to do what I can with the time I have, with the pain-free hip that I now have.

When I saw my therapist, she was like what’s up with you?  You seem different that last week.  Lighter.  And you’re smiling…Yeah…

I got a shot in the my hip...

This is me…jumping for joy…

Hip, hip, hooray! (Oh man, that was a really bad pun)


  1. Yay! Steroid shots are da bomb! So glad it worked so quickly and that you're having a blast with it.

  2. I'm so happy for you, Leslie! I also have hip bursitis, and I know how miserable it can be. I've had a couple of steroid injections into the bursa, too, but for me, they didn't work. Funny how we're all so different that way! These days, the pain sorta comes and goes--and fortunately, when it flares it's not quite as bad as it once was.

    It's just great to see you jumping for joy, literally! I hope the relief lasts for a good long time. Sending a hug... :o)

    1. Thanks, Wren! Sorry to hear they didn't work for you. Although I never realized what was missing until I wasn't in pain any more.