Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Horrible, Awful, No-Good Day...

Those of you who are my regular blog readers know that I have back pain issues, ie, advanced arthritis in all three levels, cervical, thoracic, and lumbar, and herniated discs in multiple levels in the neck and lumbar areas causing spinal stenosis.  I have been suffering with this for the last 3 years and things have deteriorated over those 3 years.  

I had an appointment with a neurosurgeon last month, but he says I'm not yet to the point for surgical intervention, and even when I am, he is more concerned about the cervical/neck issues more so than the lower back.  Since being put a medicine for nerve pain, the neck and arm pain has been relieved.  However, the lower back pain is what bothers me from day to day and what concerns me most and limits my activity the most.

Starting in March of 2012, I started getting lumbar epidural injections for the pain and they really helped.  They basically gave me my "life" back.  I was able to clean house, garden, and walk long distances again.  The injections were lasting about 4 months and then it would be time to get another one.

That is...until this past April when I got an injection that only lasted 1 week.  :(  At that point, I was sent for updated MRI's and then sent to the neurosurgeon, which I already mentioned.  

Today I was scheduled for another lumbar injection.  In preparation for the injections, I have to go off of all anti-inflammatory drugs for the 5 days before the injection.  The anti-inflammatory drugs help decrease my pain by about 60-75%, I would say, so going off of them brings on about 4 days of pure HELLISH PAIN.  Basically, for the last 2 days before the injection, I drug myself with every narcotic I have in the house, trying desperately to relieve enough pain to even be able to walk around the house and get a decent night's sleep.  

I go through this hell because I know that within minutes of getting that epidural injection, I will be essentially pain-free.  

That is the plan, anyway, and has worked in the past.

Until today.

The doctor tried to get the needle into 3 different levels of my lumbar spine to deliver the epidural medicine.  He was not able to get into ANY of them due to bony prominences (bone spurs), and overly-toughened ligaments due to the degenerative processes going on in my spine.  

What should have been a 15 minute procedure, turned into a 1.5 hour procedure...all to no avail.  That was 3 injections of local to numb the skin...OUCH!!!...and 1.5 hours of me laying on my front trying to lay as still as moving at all.  

First off, people with back pain DON'T lay on their stomachs because it causes too much back pain, and secondly, people with back pain are in constant motion because staying in one place for more than a couple minutes causes pain.  I tell people that I am the "queen of movement"...always changing positions, trying to relieve pain from the previous position and trying to find a new, comfortable one.

To then find that all of this was in vain was truly more than I could handle.  I left the procedure room in tears and didn't stop crying till I was home and finally just fell asleep from sheer exhaustion.

The doctor seems to think that there are other alternative treatments that we can try, but I was too upset and he was too behind on his other patients to really discuss them today.  I have a follow-up with him on Monday to go into these in more depth.  

I'm not particularly hopeful because over the last 3 years we have tried a variety of medications and treatments, but the injections were really the thing that gave me back any semblance of "normalcy" to my life.

Needless to say, I am quite upset and worried about how all of this is going to affect my life, work, activities of daily living, etc.  I am WAY too young to feel this old or be dealing with these kinds of life changes.

If you've made it all the way through this post, then thanks for letting me vent...



  1. I am so very sorry. I have had back surgery, and that was the fix for me. Wish that could beit for you too. Many hugs!

  2. So, as I read this, I thought... OMG.... you are ME. Except, I've been dealing with the pain for 15 YEARS.. I got those epidural shots, and trust me... they weren't going anywhere with my NECK, when the pain is the worst. I'm on Lyrica now, after I got to the limit of Neurotin. I need to take 3 pills, but am unable to, because, if I do... I get horrible hallucinations. So, I had to cut back to 2 and just wing it for the day. If I drop something, I can't pick it up, because it sends electrifying pains into my chest. Back in the day, when I was in that accident in '77, I had a broken sternum. I have no idea where. Well, I didn't then. I can pinpoint it exactly now! It's not heart pains, I've had that checked out and my heart is strong. What meds are you on? I went to my Neurologist a couple of weeks ago and they are setting up an MRI, to see the difference since the one in '09. Then, going from there. We are looking at some extreme measures, but very helpful. It's pretty private, so I'll tell you in an email. Good luck with your back... I seriously mean it when I say... I know your pain!

  3. Oh, Loretta, I'm so sorry. It's bad enough to have the pain but then to have the expectation of having the pain lessened with an injection and have it not work out is so hard to bear. I hope when you visit the doctor on Monday that he offers some new option that works. Blessings to you.

  4. I too know back pain and empathize with you. Yours sounds far worse though. And I thought no one else did the constant movement because of pain. In Jan. I had a 'first' bout with such intense pain I could only shuffle along if at all. I saw two different doctors and a pain specialist. Pain pills only helped a little, I went through a course of cortisone pills, and use Lidoderm patches on the lower back. The latter does seem to help some, but I'm ever vigilant as to what I do during the day, how I stand, sit, lay down, lift, etc. I know I need to drop weight and exercise, both will help some, but the degenerative aspects, well I may ultimately be facing the injections too - 'they' have already encouraged me to get them, but I wasn't keen on the idea, and after reading your post, not sure it's offered much encouragement to do so. Praying for you.

    1. Lee, I would actually recommend the injections. They gave me my life back for a year and I'm thankful for that. Unfortunately, it looks as though this is the end of that chapter is finished for me.

  5. I am so sorry Loretta! I feel your pain through reading this blog post. I pray that you can come up with a plan with your doctor that helps relieve your pain. That country song came to mind when you said "I'm much too young to feel this **** old!"

  6. Feeling a lot of empathy for you Loretta. My mom had the surgery twice and is doing well at age 80. Have you though about getting a second opinion? A neurosurgeon who agrees that it's time for surgery.

  7. I agree with TLC. Time for a second opinion. And if that doctor needs it, I'll kick him in the butt for you!

    We have a woman at work who is in her 40s and really needs knee replacement, but they won't do it due to her age. So she had a different procedure, was out of work for the same length of time as a knee replacement, and knows she'll have to go through it again in 5 years. Makes no sense.

  8. When ever you think that you can stand it, the YMCA arthritis class is still 3 days a week, M,W,F from 9 am to 10 am.