Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for R-E-L-I-E-F by Joyce Hertzoff

Welcome to Unwritten's part of the worldwide A-Z Blog Challenge!! Every day in April (except Sundays), we'll have a new post related to the letters of the alphabet from A-Z. Our theme here on Unwritten is "I Will Survive". I hope these stories will inspire and uplift you. Comments are VERY appreciated!

R is for R-E-L-I-E-F 
Joyce Hertzoff

In my teens, I had periodic bouts of what the doctor called muscle spasms in my right hip area. At times, I couldn't sit, stand or walk without the pain becoming intolerable, but he didn't have any 'cure' for me. The pain came and went without warning. Sometimes it lasted a day, other times a week. And then it went away completely.

About forty years ago when we lived in New York, my sister-in-law and I and our five kids went shopping one day. On the way home, we were involved in a traffic accident. My sister-in-law broke a leg, but no one else suffered more than a few cuts and bruises. Aside from a split lip from the impact, my only after effects were assorted aches and pains. Most of them went away with time, but I continued to feel occasional soreness in my right side, hips and legs, and attributed it all to the accident.

More than twenty years later we lived in Ohio. My doctor at the time decided some of the pain I suffered was due to arthritis. He prescribed Celebrex and it brought me some relief, even if it wasn't total. I took the drug for at least fifteen years before a blood test here in New Mexico revealed some deterioration in my kidney function. The doctors advised an immediate stop to the use of Celebrex. They also said any anti-inflammatory, including any NSAIDs, could cause further deterioration.

The pain returned full force, along with an improvement in my kidney function. But with few drugs to treat my suffering, my doctors and I had to try other remedies.

Deep muscle massage helped but only short-term, like hours. Water aerobics also helped until I slipped at the gym, dislocating my shoulder and had to undergo rotator cuff surgery. Physical therapy was only
approved for short periods of time and didn't really help, anyway.

X-rays and scans of various sorts showed minimal problems in my spine, osteoporosis in various places (not unexpected at my age), and only minor arthritis of any joints. The orthopedist I've been seeing thought that shots in the lumbar area would relieve the pain in my legs and hips, which had increased steadily over time. The appointment for those shots was rescheduled twice, but the procedure was finally done. Unfortunately, the shots brought no relief.

I couldn't stand in one spot for any length of time without discomfort in my hips. Walking felt good, but only for about fifteen minutes and then I had to sit. When I stood after sitting a while, I felt stiff. I often couldn't find a comfortable position for sleeping.

But my orthopedist wouldn't give up. He's also a pain specialist and suggested shots to the outer thigh area on both sides. There were spots where, under ordinary conditions, I felt little discomfort, but pressure would produce level nine pain. He said they were related to bursitis in the upper legs. In addition to the shots, he prescribed Gabapentin, a drug initially used to treat epilepsy, but found to work on dulling nerve pain.

The combination of those shots every three months and the meds has brought me the kind of relief I've been hoping for over more than fifty years.

Married for almost 49 years, Joyce has two grown children: a librarian daughter living in New York with her two rabbits, and a college professor son living in California with his wife and (at present count) two rescue dogs and three rescue cats.

She received a B.S. in Chemistry from Queens College in New York City many many years ago.  Joyce also attended business and management courses during her years in the fact-based scientific literature industry. And she can read scientific papers in seven languages, although few of them fluently.

After retiring in 2008 after a long career, mostly as a manager of 25-35 scientists with many more degrees than she had, Joyce and her husband moved from the dreary mid-west to the sunny southwest where they love their mountain view and spicy food.

Once Joyce was free of the responsibilities of a job, and years dealing with facts and figures, she needed a little fiction to soothe her soul. She tried her hand at a novel for the 2008 NaNoWriMo, producing a romantic mystery that's still in the editing phase.

Through several more NaNo sessions and classes of WVU, she wrote two fantasy series. The Crimson Orb, the first novel in the Crystal Odyssey series, will be published by the Phantasm Books imprint of Assent Publications in June, 2014.

Joyce was a mentor intern for the most recent session of F2K and takes classes and participates in three critique groups at Writers Village University. She is also a member of Southwest Writers, a group of over five hundred members, participating in an offline critique group with other Fantasy writers.


  1. Joyce, I'm glad you finally found something to relieve your pain. Gabapentin is widely used for CMT also. It put an end to restless legs for me as a bonus.

    I'm grateful to WVU and F2K for allowing our paths to cross. Looking forward to reading your books.

    Beset wishes.


    1. Best wishes too, Joyce. I gotta start using the preview....

  2. Your symptoms match mine almost to a T. I am in the same situation with the meds damaging my kidneys and liver. I am under the care of an orthopedic surgeon. I'm going to pass on your treatment options to him to see if he will try the same thing with me.
    Thanks for sharing this story.

  3. Thanks Leo. I'm also very happy to have met you through WVU and F2K. Good also to know that there are others my age embarking on a writing career.

  4. I wouldn't be surprised if many others suffer from similar problems.

  5. Glad you received the relief from the shots and meds your doctor provided. I think many of us take for granted our good health. My husband receives Cortisone shots once every 8 weeks in his shoulder and elbow. He says the relief is so hard to describe due to how much pain there is just before he gets them. I can't even imagine.

  6. Diane, that's so true. Sometimes you don't realize how bad the pain is until it's gone.

  7. Mysti, this was a great idea for a monthlong blog. We all have had to overcome something in our lives. Thanks for the opportunity to share.

  8. Joyce, I'm one of the many with similar problems. Bursitis and osteoporosis sent me to a cane, which has helped my mobility a lot. I've had no results from cortisone shots in the past, but take an occasional pain med after a trip to the supermarket.

  9. Mar, my shots aren't cortisone but something similar. Glad a cane helps you.

  10. Glad you were able to get some relief. That is a great R post idea.

  11. Thanks for sharing your story, Joyce. It's a great example of the importance of "outside of the box thinking" to treat and diagnose medical problems. I'm so glad your chronic pain is finally relieved.

  12. I guess we just reach an age where things hurt - A LOT. I love my chiropractor, he helps put things back in place when I hurt too much. Goody powders are also my friend. Thanks for reminding me that I'm not alone with pain.



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