Hit the proverbial wall....

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  1. inkjunkie

    inkjunkie Well-Known Member

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    ....again. Been living with back pain for close to 40 years. The past 15 of them or so I have lived on Oxycodone & Oxycontin. In October 2018 my pain changed, did not get worse just felt different. Doc sent me out for an MRI, said it was time to see a cutter....my doc is not a fan of most back surgeries. Went to see "the guy" in our area...he said nothing he could do. He sent me to see a pain clinic that is not about using your spine as a dart board (epidurals). Pain doc felt I was a good candidate for a Spinal Cord Stimulator. Had one implanted, while it got rid of all of my sciatic pain it did very little for my back. Another MRI. My herniated L4-5 disc had improved, the L3-4 worsened. Put a Vertiflex in. I'll be damned...pain level dropped dramatically. Pain clinic decided it was time for to go to PT. I am WAY overweight. I am also very "tight". I have never been flexible, my hamstrings have always been very tight.
    Month or so into therapy I developed this pain in my rib cage. I developed Costochondritis: Overview, Causes, and Symptoms
    Docs told me it was probably because of how stiff I was, that my body was compensating for areas that are supposed to be flexible not being so.
    Ever since having the Vertiflex put in I have felt a different pain. Felt higher in my back. Felt deeper. Pretty much felt like I had been punched in the spine.
    So therapy has been a week of doing stretches and exercises followed by a week of just heat and ultrasound. That is until today...
    Joel, the therapists, was a bit concerned with me when I got there. When I walked out of therapy on Monday my pain level was 1..today it was more like 6.
    He had me lay on the table and he started pushing. He gently pushed on the scar from the Vertiflex. No noticeable increase in pain. Pushed a bit higher, nada. A bit more...and well...I damn near jumped off the table.
    He is thinking I now have TLJ....
    Thoracolumbar Junction Pain Syndrome: a Cause of Low Back, Hip, Pubic & Pseudovisceral Pain
    I am clueless as to what this all means, long term, for me and my desire to get off the drugs and get back to some sort of normal life. As luck would have it I have an appointment with the pain clinic tomorrow. The leads for my stimulator are placed well above me T-12/L1 area. What I am going to ask is if they can reprogram my stimulator. Right now it is only firing at the very bottom of the leads, which if I remember right is below the T-12/L1 junction. I am hoping that, if they agree with me, that if they can use the stimulator to mask my new pain until I develop some flexibility. I realize that this is not the right way to approach this. Problem is I feel like a dog chasing its tail right now. I don't hurt. Stretch a few days I hurt. So I stop stretching for a few days. Any progress I made by the few days of stretching is greatly reduced by stopping. Feel like I am going 1' forward, 11.75" backward.
    Beyond frustrated right now. If it were not for my very caring, loving wife I would just eat a bullet...and put an end to this miserable existence....
     
  2. 5.7 hemi

    5.7 hemi FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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    Not saying this to be mean or condescending.......but perhaps you should start doing something to lose weight. Perhaps exercise, a tummy tuck, lap band etc..
     
  3. 4spdragtop

    4spdragtop CONGRATS NORTH AMERICA!

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    Sorry to read Doug, from what I know "back problems" can be any number(thousands) of things so a proper diagnosis isnt as easily made. You would think with technology today it would make it easier for the docs. But writing a script for pain killers is easier for some of them. Stay positive and as 5.7 Hemi mentioned try shedding some weight? Weight loss will help both physically and mentally.
    Be well
     
  4. DionR

    DionR Well-Known Member

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    Man, sorry to hear.

    Wish I had answers for you, best I can suggest is to keep looking for the positive. Glad you have your wife there.

    Let me know if I can lend a hand.
     
  5. peedee

    peedee Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to hear your having so many troubles, my stimulator leads are at T7 so quite high although my fusion was L4 L5 S1 and i have just last July had the stimulator/ battery replaced as charging the unit for 4 hours would give me 10 minutes of use the unit was 13 years old so just worn out, no new leads though, the current therapy here is for what they call no feel (just below the threshold of feeling the stimulation) but i also asked for a couple of my old programs to be reinstalled in the new stimulator.
    1 lets me change the level of stimulation to where i can feel it like a small electric current running through
    my back.
    2 lets me sort of steer it around my back by increasing stimulation over 1 section of my back compared to
    2 or 3 other points, buy having adjustment of 4 sections say mid back, left back, right back, and high
    mid back
    This is done by the leads having 4 poles prior to the final tip of the lead so effectively i have a ground lead and a positive lead but it can use any of the terminal points on the leads as the + or - pole.
    I don't know which brand you have but mine is a Boston Scientific.
    I know that on the no feel program i can get approx. a week out of a charge, but on the feel setting (usually because i have been doing things that are too much for me) it can go down to as little as 3 days before needing a recharge, my trial one actually moved on me after the 4th day and had my right leg constantly shaking, but that was agin me doing silly things with the trial stimulator insitu
     
  6. 68gtxman

    68gtxman I used to reMember

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    @inkjunkie Sorry to hear all this Doug. But, it sounds like you are off the opioids? If so, that is a huge step in the right direction! Take each step as a win and keep focused on your loving wife.
     
  7. vitamindart

    vitamindart Well-Known Member

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    sorry to hear its not going as good as you would like. glad to see you at least feel some improvement. 1' forward and 11.75" back is still .25" improvement.
    sometimes it takes a lot of little steps before you can take a big step. keep pursuing progress.
     
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    • inkjunkie

      inkjunkie Well-Known Member

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      Does not sound mean or condescending, just truthful. Thing is I am disabled due to some pretty severe mental health troubles. So food is comfort. Couple that with the aforementioned loving wife being Mexican...and well starches and carbs a way of life. Years ago I started eating like a caveman...meat...meat....meat...and I dropped pounds weekly. I need to just stop eating all the starches and carbs she makes...perhaps she will get the point. But the thing is I am severely depressed right now. I am seeing a shrink, was actually seeing 2 of them but one just asked me if we could take a break. I am not medicated for the mental health crap...can't be. Someone like me needs a cocktail...mood stabilizers and anti-depressants. Have been on damn near every mood stabilizer there is, get some very serious side effects from them. And if I am put on just an anti-depressant things get interesting very quick as the only thing that happens is near constant mania...which for me is black out rage.

      Some of this is my fault, hell, most of it is. Every job I had I was on my feet, bending and lifting all day. Pain doc warned me that this was going to happen. If you read my MRI reports there is crap wrong at damn near every disc. They knock out the most severe pain....and the one that was being masked by it now becomes severe. No more sciatic pain. No more L4-5 pain. This pain...I have had this for a while. It comes and goes. My therapist has told me that with enough rest it will subside. Thing is every time it does as soon as I try and get active it returns.
      Years ago I was 175 pounds of muscle. I ran 7-9 miles daily. Weights daily as well. Even back then I was not flexible. I saw a chiropractor. He gave me a stretching routine to add in. I spent 40-45 minutes a day just stretching, 7 days a week. After 6 months I went to see him..he got out his measuring contraptions....I gained 0 mobility.
      You are right, writing a script is the easiest thing to do. 15 years later...hmmmm....well maybe we should actually see what is wrong. By this time you become dependent/addicted. And thanks to the "Opioid Crisis" on a "Controlled Substance Contract". I get piss tested at least 8 times a year. Now, the state of Washington also has me filling out a form every time I get a script. Speaking of forms...it is about time my health insurance to do the annual jerk fest on me...I need to have a prior authorization for the drugs. Despite being on them for 15 years, all of which they have been the ones paying for them, they claim that I need to stop taking them and start on something that is on "the list". Hmmmm...so you want me to cold turkey quit synthetic heroin, that you have been paying for and put me on a drug that I was on already...that did not do nothing for me. Yeah...no...with my mental health issues that is not going to be pretty.

      Thanks

      I have the newest Medtronic device. I am not sure of the terminology but the stim I am currently on is like yours, no feel. They have not change the programs since I had the Vertiflex put in. If the Medtronics Rep is there today I am going to try and get this changed. The leads that are in me have 14 or so spots where stimulation can be applied. If I remember right they are currently using the bottom 4 in a crossfire setup. Prior to this thing I had severe sciatic pain in my left leg. To the point that the only way to get my left leg in the truck was to help it by grabbing my pants and forcing it in. Was not uncommon for me to be just about in tears. Now...0 sciatic pain. The Vertiflex took care of the pain I was having across the area...hmmm...how to I put this....just about the height of your butt crack. We have a muscle that runs from one side of your pelvis to the other, that is where my back pain was severe. Now the pain is above this area.

      Nope, still on them. I am in the process of reducing the dosage, but going very slowly. I was on 70-80mg a day. For the past 3 weeks it is 55mg a day.

      Thing is Medicare has a cap on PT payments. I am afraid that I will hit the cap and be stuck in this state. Truth is I have had this "new" problem for a very long time, it was just masked by every thing else. Perhaps saying that I have had this pain for a long time is not exactly fair. This is going to sound a bit personal...sorry...but picture the motion (and the bend that it takes to do so) of wiping your butt. That requires both a slight side bend and a forward/rearward one. That is brutal for me. Perhaps a more understandable explanation...putting a belt on. Most of my pants have a loop right in the middle of them. It is damn near impossible for me to reach that loop as it requires you to bend and twist at the T12/L1 junction.

      I have made mention of this pain to all of my doctors, but I am guessing I have not been vocal enough about it. I actually noticed it back when I was going for the stimulator trial. The very first day the stimulator was turned on is when I noticed it. I know I have told Sasha, the one Medtronic rep about it multiple times.

      I really do appreciate being able to come on here and rant. For one thing it allows me to organize my thoughts a bit. I will be unloading all of my pent up anger about this on the Pain Clinic staff in a few hours...Really wish my wife was able to go with me as when I feel like this I normally slip into a bit of a manic state...
       
      • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
      • 4spdragtop

        4spdragtop CONGRATS NORTH AMERICA!

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        Side note, I've been diabetic for 12 years. Blood sugars are always high(double digits). Thanks to Lori, my sugars have now been consistently single digits. Thanks to Lori's cooking and reducing carbs, calories and sugars. Starch for me is a big nono. Max 50 carbs per meal.
        What gets me is the munchies too. I now make it a ritual to test my blood at least 8-10 times a day. 1st thing in morning, before every meal and an hour after. Helps us figure out what works for me.
        Best of luck Doug, pulling for you.
         
      • Demonracer

        Demonracer 71 Demon 00 Ram 16 Chrysler 300S 05 Caravan FABO Gold Member

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        Doug, your In Box is full, trying to PM you.
         
      • Jim Lusk

        Jim Lusk Well-Known Member

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        I've seen the nasty side effects of psych meds up close and personal (not me) so I understand what you're going through as far as that is concerned. Also, it's hard not to be depressed when in constant pain and not having the ability to do what you want to do.

        As for the back, I have seen so many people with the effects of back pain and the things that guys like us do to ourselves in our younger (and sometimes older) years. I can only sympathize with you. I cracked T-11 when I was 20 and am thankful every day that I can still get out and do any sort of physical work.

        My wife has been battling all sorts of physical maladies over the last several years. It is very hard for her to be accepting of needing my help, very likely a contributor to your depression as we want to be able to do things for ourselves. I will avoid the cliches...
         
      • inkjunkie

        inkjunkie Well-Known Member

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        I will clear it shortly.
        Pain doc did a quick exam, so poking and prodding. Shew started our talk with..."Doug...you do know how ugly your spine is, right?". That kinda stung a bit...lol. As many of us know when you develop overuse injuries Mr Arthur, arthritis, often pays you a visit. She said that the pressure I have been feeling up to when this pain showed up is Mr. A. She told that based on on how I am moving and with where the pain is that I just have had a major arthritic flare. She wants me to cancel PT next week, I don't want to burn up me sessions just laying on a bed with a heat pack and UV light on my back. Told me to stretch, as long as it does not hurt. Gave me another round of MethylPREDNISolone and some muscle relaxers. The muscle relaxers are really doing a number on me, damn near drooling on myself.
        She did tell me that the stimulator will not help with this. Lauren asked if I was still trying to get off the Opioids. She did tell me that in some patients that have moderate-severe arthritis in their spine that a pain pump often helps. So....when/if I can get off the narcotics that they would be more then willing to try. I was planning on having one put in if the Vertiflex and Stimulator did not manage my pain enough so...
        Again...I sincerely appreciate you folks listening to me rant about this crap...
         
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